Hello there, and welcome to another Xbox and PC recap! This time, we're going over the most interesting headlines from the month of August 2022. There's a good range this time around, with some highlights from Gamescom 2022, as well as some amusing back-and-forth between Sony and Microsoft.
Amid the changing release dates — including the amazing news of a game getting bumped up — there should be something for everyone to enjoy. Let's dive in.
Microsoft and Sony go back and forth on Activision Blizzard
Microsoft is working to acquire Activision Blizzard, which means this gargantuan deal is going through examination from numerous regulatory authorities across the world. Because Brazil's Administrative Council for Economic Defense has public records, we've been able to see some interesting legal back-and-forth between Microsoft and Sony, with the former naturally arguing that Activision Blizzard being purchased will not harm the gaming industry, while the latter has been insistent it'll have terrible repercussions.
This is fascinating because it's the kind of thing we don't usually get to see, as lawyers from both companies lay out their cases and try to present information to an authority that doesn't normally deal in gaming. Microsoft argues that Sony is fearful of the effects of Xbox Game Pass and pays for "blocking rights," while Sony argues that controlling Call of Duty allows a company to influence users' choice of console.
I love these kinds of behind-the-scenes looks, as the gaming industry is usually extremely secretive. I don't think this changes anything though, and I expect more authorities to approve Microsoft purchasing Activision Blizzard in the months ahead.
Marvel's Midnight Suns is delayed ... again
Marvel's Midnight Suns, the turn-based strategy hero game from XCOM developer Firaxis, has been pushed back a second time. This time, the game has been delayed from its planned October 2022 launch to some point before April 2023. While obviously a second delay is disappointing, there's an extra interesting detail here: This delay is specifically only for the Xbox Series X|S, PC, and PS5 versions of the game.
The last-generation versions are being delayed even further. While supply shortages and frequent delays have extended the opening cross-generation period we've been in with new consoles, we are now getting to the point where more and more third-party games are struggling to run on older machines, as Gotham Knights recently dropped its Xbox One and PS4 versions. Hopefully, this is a sign that 2023 will be the start of seeing what our newer machines can do without having some of the best games tethered to decade-old hardware.
Embracer Group, or one conglomerate to rule them all?
Swedish conglomerate Embracer Group is continuing to expand, acquiring studios like Tripwire Interactive, collectibles company Limited Run Games, and most incredulously, the rights to adaptions of The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. It's currently unclear what this means in terms of possible games or other adaptions of some of Tolkien's most iconic writing. The Rings of Power show is full steam ahead at Amazon, but will things change after the first season?
If I allow myself to dream, I hope we could see the return of the king with the Return of the King licensed game, as well as other Lord of the Rings licensed titles. It'll probably be some time before we see this acquisition have any change one way or another, but certainly it's surreal to see.
Xbox Game Pass family plan begins testing
Earlier this year, Windows Central Xbox editor Jez Corden reported that Microsoft was moving ahead with an Xbox Game Pass family plan. Microsoft has confirmed this news, sharing that this plan is now being tested in Ireland and Colombia.
Obviously it'll be a while before this rolls out to other regions, but tentatively, this family plan allows five people to enjoy Xbox Game Pass Ultimate for around $25 a month. Assuming the price doesn't change before a wider launch, if you split this service between five people, then you are paying just $5 a month for Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, a third of the usual cost.
Family plans are hugely popular for a reason, and as Microsoft continues expanding its first-party offerings, a family plan is another key part of seeing this subscription service grow to an even wider market.
Gamescom 2022 brings an array of news, including Pentiment's release date
Gamescom 2022 came and went, with a variety of neat announcements to pick through, such as the return of the long-delayed Dead Island 2. Editor Jez Corden was at the physical show and experienced several exciting games, as well as the Samsung TV app for Xbox Cloud Gaming. While I wasn't there, I did get to try a hands-on preview of Homeworld 3, which is shaping up quite promisingly.
Xbox had a presence at the show, and while there weren't any new huge announcements, we learned that Obsidian Entertainment's medieval narrative Pentiment is now slated to launch on Nov. 15, 2022. This game sees players trying to solve murder mysteries during a time of upheaval in the Holy Roman Empire, with an art style that reflects the works of the time.
Personally, Pentiment is one of my most anticipated games for the rest of the year. Obsidian's writing and narrative talent merged with a truly unique take on a game set in the Middle Ages? I can't wait.
PS5 is getting more expensive around the world, but Xbox Series X|S isn't
In a surprising announcement, Sony shared that it is raising the price of the PS5 worldwide ... except in the U.S. The price hike varies from region to region, and according to Sony Interactive Entertainment CEO Jim Ryan, this "difficult decision" is necessary due to "high global inflation rates, as well as adverse currency trends" that are affecting the market.
When asked for comment, Microsoft said that there are no plans to raise the price of the Xbox Series X|S consoles. Nintendo also confirmed later that a price increase for the Nintendo Switch is not currently planned.
I long for precedented times, but I have to admit unprecedented challenges do at least make things interesting to watch and think about. While it's true that the U.S. dollar is stronger than many currencies right now, I don't believe that this is the only reason (or even one of the main reasons) that Sony isn't raising prices in the U.S. Rather, it seems fairly obvious that due to the increased competition of PlayStation and Xbox in the U.S, raising prices here could cause Xbox sales to gain ground compared to PS5.
The PlayStation brand is historically stronger than Xbox outside of the U.S. in most regions, so Sony likely sees a price hike in these territories as possible for the time being.
Personally, I see this as short-term gain, long term lost. It won't matter this year, not with God of War Ragnarok on the way, but if PlayStation doesn't reverse this price increase early on in 2023, things are going to get very interesting.
Have a great month
That's all for now. While September isn't too heavy in new games that'll be arriving, October is, so if you've got any lingering titles that you want to play, in particular any really big open-world games, this would be the time to play them. Remember that if you missed the highlights from last month, you can check out my Xbox and PC recap for July 2022.
Outside of work, I've really been enjoying continuing to play Immortal Empires, but I'm also currently going back through the BioShock Remastered Collection. BioShock 2 is a lot more gorgeous than I remember it being, and this is really making me wonder when we'll see the next BioShock game, as it's been in development at Cloud Chamber for some time now. Until next time.
— Samuel Tolbert
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